There are few things more deflating for employees than getting a perplexed look from their parent after they tell them about their cool new job. In the digital era, many professionals face the uphill challenge of helping their parents—or really any member of an older generation—understand the nature of their work. Of course, it doesn't help that many modern workers, especially those employed at tech firms and startups, have rather unusual job titles.
But giving workers creative job titles (or letting them choose their own) isn't a just a fun new trend—it's a strategic recruitment approach. In a recent survey by Pearl Meyer, a compensation consulting firm, 40 percent of companies said they use titles to attract prospective employees, up from 31 percent in 2009. Rebecca Toman, vice president of the firm's survey business unit, told The Wall Street Journal that titles offer employers a way to show workers how they "can have an impact or make a difference." And in today's dynamic and innovative workplaces, nobody wants to be assigned a bland and dimensionless title that doesn't describe what they really do or that limits their potential.
Below, we've compiled a list of a few unusual job titles, what they mean and why they are so attractive to candidates. Not only do the titles fit under LinkedIn's list of 20 top emerging jobs, but they also have these three things in common: These jobs are critical to the business; they can be challenging, but also rewarding; and perhaps most importantly, they require highly talented professionals to execute them.
Let these inspire the next job description you write:
Office Happiness Advocate
Translation: I help my company build positive and lasting relationships with its employees by coming up with creative ways to engage them online and offline.
The appeal: Who doesn't want to be known for making people happy? But this feel-good title has a real business purpose, too: No company can thrive if its employees aren't happy. "Workplace happiness isn't about behavior change, though that can be part of it. More pivotal are the leaders of happy companies, who we've found are better at infusing positive energy into their work and teams," says Dede Henley, founder of Henley Leadership Group.
Translation: I use complex software programs to make data more useful for my company to analyze and use in business decision-making.
The appeal: Working with data is tough. Making it understandable to non-data people? Even more so. This title makes the person who wrestles and tames data sound legendary. "Companies like to play 'dress up,'" Ladders CEO Marc Cenedella told Business Insider. "By wearing the clothes, adopting the lingo, and mimicking the behavior of companies they want to be like, they hope to have some of the magic rub off on them."
Translation: I work with technical and nontechnical people inside and outside of my organization to create new software products and bring them to market successfully.
The appeal: An evangelist's role is to help people see the light. And convincing diverse stakeholders to buy into ambitious software projects takes a special person. "Evangelism creates a human connection to technology way beyond typical content marketing means because there's a face and a name relaying the story, expressing the opinion, and ultimately influencing a decision," enterprise technology evangelist Theo Priestly explains.
Translation: I develop and test new ideas for using technology in marketing, sales, product development, and other areas of the business to help my company reach more customers and generate revenue.
The appeal: Originally coined by Sean Ellis back in 2010 when he was tasked with hiring new kinds of marketers at Dropbox, this title evokes a vision of a vast field of fertile, untilled soil. "I didn't want to get rÃ©sumÃ©s from traditional marketing people," he explained back in 2015. "By calling it something else, you could say 'these are the important things.'"
Translation: I make sure that our company has the right programs and processes to help all of our employees be happy and effective at work, and to make the best use of our talent.
The appeal: Companies need help retaining their talent. And workers need to know their employer is invested in their success. Enter the people partner, who ensures that people are always a business priority. "Unique titles help create a positive environment for employees, but [leaders] should be true to their company culture when crafting new names for positions or departments," advises Michael Heinrich, founder of Oh My Green, an office food supplier.
Pro Tip: Focus on Tasks—Not Title
Next time you're looking to fill an open position, consider this before sharing a job title and description: The translations above focus on each role's purpose and responsibilities, not its title. Keeping things simple, and avoiding acronyms and jargon, can also help you get candidates excited.
And when it comes to making sure your employees' parents understand what they do, invite them to bring their parents to work. Encourage employees to demonstrate firsthand what they do, give parents an office tour, introduce them to colleagues and take them to lunch. Whether you wrangle data or hack for growth, they'll want to see the impact you're having on your company and your teams.
Photo: Creative Commons